PEOPLE OF A SENSITIVE NATURE ARE ADVISED THAT THE FOLLOWING EXTRACTS EXPLORE FAMILY DYSFUNCTION AND ABUSE ISSUES
Gayle J. Greenlea
Excerpt for 1 November, 2021
Hilary woke, hand closing on the soft mesh of a black stocking looped around her throat. Smell of Dior Poison, sex and sweat. Memory fluttered like a baby bird testing its shell: Ryan. The amber of whisky. Heavy metal. And Siobhan. Oh, God. Her hand released the crumpled nylon. Siobhan’s stocking.
She slid to one side of the bed and sat up. Ryan’s guitar leaned against an armchair covered in a pile of T-shirts and blue jeans. A black lace bra hung from the fret board. Was it hers? Hilary patted her chest, relieved to find her stretchy wireless where it should be.
She rummaged around the debris at the base of the bed, sorting clothes into piles, dislodging an empty whisky bottle. Munch’s screamer pulled a face at her from the wall, next to Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Red candle wax snail-trailed down the bedside table, enshrining the remains of a condom wrapper on the floor…
-Gayle J. Greenlea
EPIC FREEDOM IN DIVINE LIGHT – DAY ONE
For I sang the freedom song for years
in vain, in pain,
One day I will return
O my homeland ,my heaven, land of
I am the native child, born in captivity
my feet never touched my beloved soil
I breathed but for a while in mother’s
In sleep, led away, far away, to refuge
One day I will return, I sang my song-
It is a nightmare
futile dream of the happy return
my earth oozes martyrs’ blood spills
resounds with raped women’s screams
burns with saffron spreads in wide fields
weeps with weeping willows in the streams
One day I will return, and I sang my song,
in vain, in pain
I am the houseboat abandoned
I am the ‘shikara’ floating,empty
I am the moaning water of Dal
I am the aroma of sweet apples
I am the snow of mountain tops
I am the color of pansies and lotus
I am the music of the ‘rubaab’
I am the child of a captive state
One day I will return I sang my song
in vain, in pain
But now my heart is silent,my voice
stilled, my feet in fetters, my home
locked, my road blocked, guarded
I am tired of pellets bullets and gas,
I am cold like a stone, no ‘Kangarri’
I carry , no greens or beans I cook
I am but a listed item, a numberless
number, a lost identity, snatched
wrenched annexed conquered
My song of freedom rings aloud
but can anyone hear? Will anyone
come? Will anyone cry for me? Or
my land, to set free? Perhaps one day,
if the music sails on, reaches the stars
Showers the rain which pours free
and washes away the mud of captivity
breaks the chains lifts the barriers and
Come Your land is yours, gone is the
enemy- but I woke up again, in pain
I hear the fearful scream-heavy boots
shaking the soil, tearing up roots
I do not wish to sing, but pray, hope
It is all a dream-
In vain I sing, in pain I try to-sleep
-Anjum Wasim Dar
YOU’RE THE DEAD TO ME
First Week- Missing
From Martha’s Diary
Blind Mary tells us, between tears, that I’m her bff, her eyes. Asks me to help her find, Jim, her hubby whose up and disappeared. I love it when she starts this detective lark. Did it with her cat Tommy Treddlehoyle once. Scarpered for days it had. Then she got a call from a lass asking whether she’d lost a cat. Me and her collected the lost moggy from her finder half way down Cemetery Road.
Mary asked us to find his diary and read where it was open at some nonsense about a ghost:
I talk to the dead.
They give better evidence than the living.
Especially when you’re dreaming. Let’s look the evidence. My father had just died at my sisters wedding. I was patrolling a closing pit, when this ghost starts speaking to me. Honest, no wind up. You hear all the ghost tales you want on patrol as a security guard but this is true. And it looked like our local grocer. Spoke like him too. He said
Sorry to put the wind up you, Jim. Just to say your dad’s OK. It was just Tracy saying I do after she’d told your dad that she were’ having a bairn. You get the picture.
, Now Jimmy Boy … · God I hated our grocer when he called me that. ‘Where’s you’re Dad ‘s pocket watch?
I searched my pockets. Against the cold I was wearing three coats, four pockets each.
Come on I haven’t got all day
I wanted to say why do want it. It hasn’t worked since the day the Red Elephant, (as my wife Mary called her father-in-law), died anyway. I found it. Handed it to him. It hovered in the air above his palm.
It was then I noticed.
He was dressed odd. Leather aproned and shoed like a blacksmith. He held an flat metal object with holes in it. The holes went from large to small. Suddenly my skin prickled with heat as if from a furnace and he seemed to glow with a gold aura.. I saw him take a long piece of hot metal and pull it through one of the holes so it became thinner. He pulled it through smaller and smaller holes till it clicked what he was doing. He was wiremaking. He opened the back of the watch and removed a piece of wire. He replaced it with the bit he’d just made. When he handed it back to me the watch told the right time and ticked. I remembered I’d arranged to meet Mary after my shift. Part of our agreement when she found out I had a mistress called Linda.
‘Now you can you do something for us. Find out who killed your best schoolfriend’
Said the Grocer-wiremaker, bringing me back.
LOZZY!’ says I, mouth open, drooling at the watch. You get the picture. ‘Ay,’ he says cool as cucumber.
‘Any time to … ‘ ‘Yes or no.’
‘Yes. ‘ I said without thinking. Letting myself into God knows what. , You know don ‘t you?’
‘We still do jigsaws in heaven.’ he said and disappeared.
At three-thirty in the morning my eyes start going. I stumble round the pit in the cold. It’s only the cold that keeps me awake. As it is my stomach feels queasy and my throat is swollen with caffeine. About now I daydream.
Always in my mind is a broken frame in broken house in a desolate garden. The broken frame is that of a sepia photograph on the dusty floor showing nobody I know. The photograph is escaping its frame. It is lit by dusty light from a window, also broken. The white window frame paint is peeling. Tiny holes like pin-pricks, like the wood has been punctured by a hypodermic needle too many times dot the white wood. A used red shotgun cartridge is asleep on the window ledge.
I remember the eaten front door Lozzy and I had to shoulder charge. As we climbed the ‘wooden hill’ of the stairs I recalled the carpeted stairs of my ~ parents I was told to go up when they started shouting. I entered my room as I enter this one. I feel at home in this broken house, this broken room. I look out of my window at the black spot of the motorway crossed by the wobbly metal bridge. We look out of this broken window and see the ivy breaking up the red bricks. We see the weeds crossing paths. The garden is ill. Tall weeds hiding the shape. It had shape once, this garden. It was once cared for. There are strawberries, there are roses, redder perhaps, because they are wilder, like blood. We shout into the garden and nobody answers. Our voices are breaking.
Leaf falls its own shade.
It’s tree says “You’re dead to me”
Leaf lives afterlife.
Bios And Links
-Gayle J. Greenlea
is an American-Australian poet and counselor for survivors of sexual and gender-related violence. Her poem, Wonderland”, received the Australian Poetry Prod Award in 2011. She shortlisted and longlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize in 2013, and debuted her first novel, Zero Gravity, at the KGB Literary Bar in Manhattan in 2016. Her work has been published in St. Julian Press, Rebelle Society, A Time to Speak, Headline Poetry and Press, The Wombwell Rainbow, Fevers of the Mind, Kalonopia and The Australian Health Review.